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Wandering the World

Stories and tips from around the world.

Hungary Day 1

Leicester to Budapest

I travelled to London Stansted Airport during an extended lunch break, and parked up in their long stay car park. The ANPR actually worked here, and was given a ticket automatically which in theory I wouldn’t need when leaving in a few days time if all worked as it should. Whilst the shuttle bus to the terminal is around every fifteen minutes, we got lucky and it turned up just before we got to the stop and was able to hop on before it left. Ten minutes later we arrived in the terminal.

Last weekend I bought a MacBook Air off eBay, realising it’d be lighter for taking with me to Budapest, and would just need a few basics installed ahead of time to allow me to work for an hour from Stansted Airport. The first thirty minutes weren’t great as the Wi-Fi wasn’t that good, and the remainder of the time was on a call, but even using 4G, that was a bit sporadic. It’s something I won’t try with that airport again any time soon.

Whilst bag drop wasn’t that big a problem, security wasn’t great. After the long queue, I had to go through the body scanner, and then my backpack got flagged and it was a twenty minute wait to have that checked due to staffing issues. I wasn’t too happy that the person checking bags put my DSLR down on top of my laptop either.

The airport was so busy, and so many people were oblivious to those around them. Even at Burger King, which my sister wanted to visit for food, was manic. After that though we did find a quieter seating area downstairs. It was cooler there too, so that helped.

Our tickets included priority boarding as we’d paid extra in order to get some proper cabin baggage allowance, but it seemed most of the flight had too, so this line was actually the longer one at the gate. I had expected priority boarding to be a waste of time anyway, so wasn’t disappointed by this.

It took some time queuing on the stairs before we left the gate, and then on the tarmac before boarding the plane. It was a very basic aircraft, where the seats didn’t even have pockets for putting things in. This reminded me of some cheap internal flights I’ve done in the US before. It’s what you’d expect from a budget airline where they’re trying to make everything as cheap as possible.

Boarding the flight

My sister didn’t like the flight at all, saying she didn’t want to renew her passport after this trip. I stopped watching the TV I’d got on my laptop, and talked to her instead. She didn’t really want to play games on her iPhone or iPad and was bored, but I think talking helped her. When we landed it was dark, but was still noticeably warm. I’d received a WhatsApp message from the driver for our lift to the apartment, asking us to message him when we left baggage claims. This was a pick-up organised through Welcome Pickups just before we’d left home earlier. I’d decided at the last minute it might be easier pre-booking than trying to use Bolt to order one when we were ready after my luck attempting to use Uber in Eastbourne recently. I’d used this company before elsewhere, so trusted they’d be okay.

We got to passport control quickly, and then had quite a wait at baggage claims. As soon as we left there I messaged the Welcome Pickups driver, and he said he’d be there in five minutes. Fifteen minutes later he was there, and drove us for around forty minutes to the apartment. He got the address wrong somehow at first, putting in 3 instead of 20 as Google Maps is wrong, but he drove us to the right one.

There was a big metal gate with key code access. Once we got that sorted, we found the right door to the building, and this one had the same key code. This got us into the ground floor of the building with a stairwell ahead of us, and our instructions said we should see a lift. There was not one there. I checked down the stairs, it may have been dark there but I couldn’t see one, so I checked upstairs and found it. This was just a floor for mailboxes and the lift entrance - so wouldn’t have been accessible for anyone in a wheelchair. We used the lift to take us to the ‘third’ floor, and there was another door to our right, with a different key code for us to get into a small room with two doors.

What was strange about this building is that has the ground floor where the entrance is, then the floor with the lift, then another floor before the actual ‘first’ floor - so we were effectively on the fifth floor of the building (or sixth if you’re from the US and see ground and first as the same).

Ours was the Sunnyside apartment, and this had another code to get us into a key box so we could then unlock the door with the key that was locked away. It’d been a long day, but we could rest now.

Tags: budapest hungary travel trips

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© David G. Paul